Limerick-born, Kildare-raised and Dublin-based Ev Carm has today released Awake, a full legnth LP following a string of single releases earlier this year. Opening with Daydreaming, the 110 second haunting and dream-like intro will draw you into a trance-like state, before bleeding into Looking For You. Ten-tracks with soundscapes and hushed lyrics that’ll make you feel things, this album from the experimental folk musician is one you will want to listen to.
Full of textured layers, mounting soundscapes and melancholic vocals, the self-produced album – recorded largely between September 2019 and March 2020 – was an exercise in letting go for the artist…
Ever since I started making music as a teeneager, I idealized the idea of making an album, almost to a toxic extent. I dreamed of making my first album, what I wanted to achieve, what I wanted to express, and put the format on a pedestal, which suffocated any subsequent work. Only the most arresting, fulfilling work I had ever made would be acceptable for my debut, and nothing I made fit those categories. I spent years making albums and scrapping them, and started to become disillusioned with music as a whole. After a tough time 2 years ago I took a hiatus from consciously working on music, and abandoned the idea of music as a career. I started to only work on music if I really felt like it, without any intention of creating a greater body of work, only making work when I felt I really needed to. Letting go of the golden calf the ‘album’ had become, and only focusing on what I was doing in the moment allowed me to explore new sounds and ideas, and experiment in a way I never had, without worrying if it was “good enough”. After a few months of working for the sake of working, I realised that I had subconsciously made a body of work I was really proud of.Ev Carm
With writing and recording being a solitary exercise for the songwriter, Carm focused on the actual album’s release as an opportunity to collaborate…
I’ve found over the years that when I work alone, it’s the only time I feel really comfortable with the work I’m making, like I can really try things that scare me, and take risks I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking with other people. Despite all this, I still love to collaborate with other artists in any way I can. I tried to make the promotional side of the album an opportunity to work with artists I really admired, and wanted to take a system designed to sell an album and turn it into a ‘product’, and use it as another layer of work to accompany the music. I was lucky enough that Dublin is rife with creativity and community at the moment, so I had ample opportunity. Peggie McKeown designed the artwork for the album and all the singles, Televisi6n (Leo Clarke) & Elysia Tuohy made video pieces to accompany two of the tracks on the album, and I had a chance to work with Donal Talbot and Claire Lyons on the promotional photosEv Carm
for the record.
We asked Ev some questions over lockdown, so sit back and get to know the musician behind Awake…
Hey Ev! How are you doing? What’s lockdown been like for you?
I’m doing good. The last few months have been strange. I’ve been working as a greengrocer here in Dublin during the lockdown, so I’m getting out of the house most days, and I’ve also been working on music, so I’ve been keeping busy and luckily succumbing to quarantine brain hasn’t been much of an issue.
You released a couple singles earlier this year which feature on the album, like ‘Laugh Again’ – loving the layers of sounds and whispered, gentle vocals. What’s the story behind this song?
I started working on that song a few months ago, and it was inspired by idealizing and being consumed by a memory, whether or not the memory is entirely accurate .
A little birdy told us you recorded it in your apartment on some old, and perhaps fire-damaged (?) gear… tell us more about the recording process (and the mysterious fire)…
Yeh I record at home, in my bedroom. I have a pretty simple set up, I usually use one microphone for most things, the only extravagance would be that I have a couple of old tape recorders I like to use. I usually like to use as little recording equipment as I can and equipment I’m used to as much as possible to try and minimize the amount of brain power I have to use fiddling with gear so I have more time to focus on what I’m actually trying to capture. This means I get attached to my equipment, so when there was a fire in my house about 5 years ago, I couldn’t bear to replace any of the gear that didn’t turn to ash, whether it was fully functional or not.
And the album Awake is being released via andfriends. Tell us a bit more about how this came about…
My relationship with with andfriends came about through my friendship with the label founder, Rafino Murphy. Raf & I have been friends a while and have worked together on music in different capacities throughout our friendship. I’ve always sent Raf demos and early versions of songs I’m working on so when he decided to set up this label he knew I had some stuff I was working on and asked could he release it. It’s been really great seeing this start from the ground up and to be the first release means a lot.
So, what/who influences and inspires your music?
I’m mainly inspired by what’s happening in Dublin right now. The creative community in Dublin is really thriving in a beautiful way. The work that my friends are creating around me really inspires me and helps me to do what I do. Peggie McKeon (the artist behind the cover art for Laugh Again), Donal Talbot, Clare Lyons, Elysia Tuohy, Tom Goodman, Leo Clarke, Hannah DeChant, Shane Keeling, Lauren Shannon O’Brien and Jack Marmion would be some artists whose work has really inspired me recently and who everyone should check out.
You were born in Limerick, grew up in Kildare, and now live in Dublin. When did your interest in music begin?
My interest in music started very young. My first memory is running around my Nana’s kitchen in Limerick with my cousin Dylan, singing the Batman theme tune. My mother’s family in Limerick has always been musical, my grandfather loved to sing, my uncle was an accomplished trumpet player in his youth, my older cousins always played music when I was growing up and my cousin Dylan I just mentioned also became interested in music around the same time as I did and now fronts a great band based in Limerick called Dylan Flynn & The Dead Poets. So I’ve always been surrounded by music.
If you could describe your sound for those who haven’t heard you before, what would you say?
I would be inclined to call it ‘Textural Music’. Mainly because texture and representing tactile sensation through sound is a large aspect of my creative process, but maybe that doesn’t translate too well.
Now for a bit of a fun one to give us some insight into your favourite things: al la Desert Island Disks, if you could take only one book, one song, and one luxury item to a desert island, what would they be?
Very tough question. For the book I want to say Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote, but maybe I should bring something I’ve never read, or even something really dense like Finnegan’s Wake since I’d have all the time in the world to figure out what’s going on in that book. For the song I’m gonna have to go with I Want You Back by The Jackson 5. I have never once, in all my 23 years tired of that song, and don’t intend to any time soon. For my luxury item I’d have to bring some sort of portable recorder.
And finally, we’d love to know of any underrated musicians around Dublin or the rest of the green, rainy isle we should listen to? A couple of songs we should check out?
As I mentioned earlier, Dylan Flynn & The Dead Poets from Limerick. Here in Dublin, I’d say anyone associated with andfriends, and anyone associated with my dear friends at Bad Soup Records. Also Qwasi, Adam Garrett, Tribal Dance, Acid Granny, Angular Hank, Isaac Jones, and of course Rafino’s own music as Uly.
Thank you for the e-interview!
Thanks for talking to me!
Keep up with Ev Carm on Instagram:
Photography: Clare Lyons